Twitter doubles length of tweets to 280 characters

Screengrab via Timrasett  Internet Archive

After a global test, Twitter has done the previously unthinkable and given virtually all users access to 280-character tweets. It became a hallmark of the service - an encouragement to craft short, sweet messages and contribute to the free-flow of conversation that became Twitter's main identifying feature.

We - and many of you - were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space. According to the company, just 5% of tweets sent during the trial period were over 140 characters, and only 2% exceeded 190.

The company didn't disclose how many users have been testing the longer tweets.

Interestingly, Twitter said that after the novelty of tweeting more characters wore off, most people in the test stopped tweeting the full length.

The users in question - Timrasett and HackneyYT - reportedly worked together to find an exploit that allowed them to send out 35,000 characters of nonsensical letters and numbers, effectively shattering Twitter's existing character limits.

Say goodbye to 140 characters and the countdown that used to appear next to your working tweets, it's all about 280 characters and a slowly filling circle now.

Everyone, that is, except those tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages. The result is that users spend too much time trying to edit their tweets down, or abandon them altogether. Twitter found that people with the expanded character limit spent less time editing their tweets. And even if the social network saw a significant influx of longer tweets after Tuesday's announcement, Rosen pointed out that current tweets with an image or poll already take up more space than a 190-character tweet. "With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced - that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit".

Gartner analyst Brian Blau said in September that he doubts that the change will have a major effect on what people post to Twitter.

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